Harekala Hajabba – the fruit vendor who received Padma Shri award

India’s hidden gem – Harekala Hajabba, an orange vendor from Mangalore, Karnataka was conferred with prestigious Padma Shri award under social work category. He received Padma Shri award (one of the highest civilian honour of India) from admirable President of India, Ramnath Kovind for the year 2020 in New Delhi for bringing a revolution in rural education.

Utilizing his savings from selling oranges at the Hampankatta market in Mangalore, Hajabba dedicated his life to build a school in his village which provides education for many children from deprived families.

What influenced him to build a school?

Harekala Hajabba was born on 17th October 1952 in Tumkur. He is a 69 years old selfless man. Born in a Muslim family of very modest financial aid, Hajabba himself from an underprivileged family wasn’t provided an education.

One day, while selling oranges he came across a few foreign tourists. When they asked him for orange price in English, he couldn’t understand and went blank. Feeling humiliated he didn’t want anyone else to undergo embarrassment, that is when he decided to build a school from his savings and help the children from poor families.

The school began on 6th June 1999 in madrassa village starting with 28 students. Subsequently, it became a government school (Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Primary School). High school started in 2007. Presently, school has classes from 1st -10th standard. Today the school has around 175 students. It is said that at first he contributed Rs.25000 from his life savings and he also struggled to get donations from possible villagers and demanded land from the government in order to set up a school.

Hajabba being an inspiration for a lot of people today has earned numerous awards and he utilises award money for upgrading the facilities in school. He is appreciatively known as ‘Akshara Santa‘(letter – saint). He now dreams of adding more schools and colleges in his village, with donations received from a lot of people. He also mentioned that he requested PM Narendra Modi to construct a full fledged Pre – University in his village. Hajabba was also granted the Real Heroes Award by CNN IBN and Reliance Foundation. A life history of Harekala Hajabba has now been included within the syllabus of Mangalore University.

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